Author Archives: cgarland

2015 Micro Entrepreneur of the Year

Freedom Trail Tour, Inc.  


SBAC-2015Luncheon-2260 ME1

Johnnie Brown, Owner and Operator of Freedom Trail Tours, Inc.

At this year’s Award Luncheon, the 2015 Micro Entrepreneur of the Year was awarded to the business Freedom Trail Tour, Inc. owned by Johnnie Brown.

Many of us know this stylish, well-dressed tour guide sporting a top hat and French cuffed shirt, but if you don’t, let us paint a picture of him for you. New York Times describes Johnnie Brown as one of Savannah’s precious few African-American tour guides whose popular tour is a refreshing detour from a stroll on River Street. Trip Advisor contributors strongly recommend him, stating “Johnnie Brown is passionate about delivering spot-on information and an interesting tour”.

SBAC-2015Luncheon-2220 AME1

Johnnie Brown [center] received the 2015 Micro Entrepreneur Award from Stephen George [left]. Reverend Tillman [right] of the First African Baptist Church, Savannah, also pictured here.

As you can read in the most recent article on his business in the Savannah Now, Johnnie has come back again and again to SBAC for his business financing.  He first came to SBAC in 2011, and received a loan funded through the City of Savannah’s Housing and Urban Development Special Purpose Grant to refinance his tour bus at that time. He has since returned to SBAC every year since for a total of 5 loans to finance various projects including the purchase of a new bus. It has been a pleasure working with Johnnie Brown and watching his small business grow to what it is today.

SBAC was very pleased to honor Johnnie Brown of Freedom Trail Tour, Inc. with our award for Micro Entrepreneur of the Year 2015.

2015 Michael Bunn, Sr., Memorial Rising Star Award

SBAC-2015Luncheon-2232 ARS1

2015 Michael Bunn Sr., Rising Star Award Winner- Gil Straub of Bojangles

Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘N Biscuits


The Michael Bunn Senior Memorial Rising Star Award has been given every year since its inception to a small business that has shown to be a “Rising Star” in its community.

In this year’s Annual Luncheon at the Savannah Station, SBAC recognized and honored Gilbert Straub and Gilbo, LLC dba Bojangles’ Famous Chicken n’ Biscuits for their continuous involvement in our community.

SBAC-2015Luncheon-2157 AMBGil operates several restaurants who regularly host local charity nights and events to help organizations, athletic teams, and schools raise funds. Numerous times Gil and his partner Mike Curran, have stated that Bojangles’ is an avenue for them to help people in the community.

When Gil opened his first Bojangles’ in the community he told Savannah Business Journal:

“We define ourselves by the community in which we live because we have become so ingrained in it with every aspect of our lives. Bojangles’ has built its reputation on being active in the community it serves, so it fits very nicely with who we are as business owners and Savannah residents.”

In a past article, Business in Savannah commented that they’ve reinvented the Bojangles’ brand into one that not only provides quality fast food, but also has an impact on the Savannah community.

Since their start in 2009, Gil Straub and his Bojangles’ team have continuously shown how dedicated they are to our community. With the help from SBAC, and the Small Business Administration, and Ameris Bank, Gil has been able to open two additional Bojangles’ franchise locations; financing projects which total $4.29 Million Dollars.

Ticker 2

test ticker 2

Ticker 1

test ticker 1